There’s a place in Bucaramanga where the bus drivers used to stop to pick up passengers after they had left the terminal, so that they would keep this money to themselves. People would go there as prices were lower, and this place was called ”pare papi quiero piña”, meaning: stop daddy I want pineapple. Drivers still stop here today, but now there’s a little office that makes sure the money goes to the company’s pocket. Claudia, the mother of Diego and Nico, the family that hosted us in Bucaramanga for two nights told us all about it, together with many stories about Colombia’s past and present. This is why couch surfing is so great, it’s not just about saving money, but having the chance to really get to know a place and its people.
So it was time to say good bye to the coast, and start our way down to the south, where our first stop would be Bucaramanga, famous among other things for the ants (hormigas culonas). Yes, they do eat ants, and guess what, ants have seasons too. The season for ants is during the holy week, so we didn’t catch it. We wanted to give it a try, now that our vegetarian diet is really not vegetarian at all, but at the end the time flew and no ants entered our digestive system. Both Kasia and I agree this was not a big loss.
Bucaramanga itself is not the most beautiful city one could ever visit, but it does have nice little jewels like its parks. We were incredibly lucky to find amazing hosts in Bucaramanga through Couch Surfing. Nico, Claudia and Diego, who at the time was in the states, were simply great. Nico is an incredibly knowledgeable teenager who gave us a great tour around the city, and told us about the Chicamocha canyon and the town of Barichara, which many Colombians told us it’s the most beautiful village in the country, places that were close and really worth seeing. We took their word and visited both, and they were truly beautiful.
To go to Barichara one has to go through the canyon, so one can easily visit them both in a single day. The road is really tricky, closed mountain turns plus crazy drivers = plastic bags for every body!! I used to get dizzy all the time while being in a car, unless I was driving, and Kasia never. Since we arrived to Colombia, we switched roles, and I didn’t feel bad even for a second in that road, but Kasia arrived to the canyon more pale than Michael Jackson. On the road, the views one gets are simply amazing, and that continues once you step down the bus. There’s a water park in the canyon, together with a funicular that is supposed to provide incredible views. Well we followed the advice of Claudia, our host in Bucaramanga, as she said that they always had enjoyed the canyon without paying a penny, simply looking at it from the entrance to the park and walking a bit around. The views are really incredible.
Barichara is a colonial village, which means it comes with this incredibly nice architecture and cobbled streets. When we were there we had the feeling there was nobody in the village, it was completely empty, and we only found 3 other tourists walking around. The village is pretty small, one can easily walk every single street and take a nice long break in one of the amazing viewing spots that you can find on the highest part. We could have been there sitting for a really long time if the last bus back didn’t leave at 18h. Really nice place, where apparently many ex presidents of Colombia chose as a residence after their mandate finished.